Looking for an event to get the school year off to a great start? A boohoo/yahoo breakfast—so named for kindergarten parents’ typical reactions to their child’s transition to elementary school—is an easy one to host on the first morning of the new school year. New and returning parents will appreciate an opportunity to gather once they drop off their children. A light breakfast can welcome everyone and foster a sense of community from the get-go. There will likely be cheers, and maybe even some tears—for that’s what a boohoo/yahoo breakfast is all about. It only takes a little planning to successfully pull one together.

Get the Ball Rolling

Ideally, your parent group should appoint a chair and committee to handle a boohoo/yahoo breakfast before summer. Seasoned volunteers may be best because they’ll need to make arrangements before school starts, when there might not be much guidance available. If possible, before school ends in spring, determine the budget for and scope of the event. Where will it take place? What will be on the menu? What will the decor be? Will you hand out small gifts or favors? How will you get the word out? Then leave the project to the chair and committee.

That said, if you decide to start planning your event in the summer, there’s still time. You’ll just need to make your arrangements more quickly.

The Broad Details

An outside event is eye-catching and might draw a bigger crowd, but the possibility of bad weather could dampen proceedings. It’s better to secure an indoor space with convenient access—your school’s multipurpose room, cafeteria, library, large foyer—whatever venue is typically used for large gatherings. Keep relevant school employees, especially cafeteria staff who might need to share facilities, in the loop. If you’re relying on the maintenance crew to help set up tables and chairs and to clean up afterwards, let them know in advance so they can schedule accordingly.

Make sure you have enough space for the anticipated crowd. If not, you’ll have to make concessions. If you’re a small school, you can probably open the event to parents of children in all classes. If your school population is large, you may have to limit it to kindergarten parents and possibly the early primary grades. Call the school office a week or two before the event to get an estimate on enrollment numbers. Or plan a two-day event and stagger attendance—host grades K-2 on the first day, and grades 3-5 the next. Remember, parking might be a hassle. Consider designating or hiring an attendant to direct traffic.

The Finer Points

Menu-wise, you don’t need to get too ambitious on the first day of school. You can save the pancake breakfast for a later date. On the morning of your boohoo/yahoo event, coffee and juice should be the first order of business. For food, you can focus on ready-made, easy-to-serve, easy-to-handle foods. Doughnuts, muffins, and Danish pastries all work well. A bakery or grocery story can provide them, they don’t need to be kept warm, and cutlery is not required; you can even skip paper plates and simply use napkins. (As an alternative, you could serve tea as a beverage and rename the event “tea and tissues.”)

Shop ahead at a bulk store for supplies like frozen concentrated juice, coffee, tea, napkins, disposable cups, decorations, and favors. Then decide on what you want to serve as food items. Your group might already have a relationship with a local grocery store’s bakery department or a doughnut shop. If not, it’s a good idea to establish one. They’re often willing to offer schools a discount, especially if the school is buying in large quantities. Place your order well in advance, and make arrangements for an early morning pickup the day of the event. Work out the logistics: Is one parent volunteer enough to deliver the baked goods to the school? Is there adequate room in her vehicle for multiple bakery boxes? Make sure other committee members are on the receiving end to help unload.

It can be tricky to determine how many parents will come and how much food to order. Better to err on the plus side—you can always deposit leftover baked goods in the staff lounge. Figure on one bakery item per guest. A note on muffins: Petite muffins are cute and sensibly portioned, but they tend to be more expensive. Stick with the more commonly found jumbo-size muffins and consider cutting them in half. The same applies to Danish pastries. Many attendees will appreciate fresh fruit, which you could provide if you have the budget and adequate volunteers. Avoid the expense of store-prepared platters by cutting up your own orange and melon slices, or by washing and trimming small bunches of grapes and strawberries.

The Defining Details

On the decor front, aim for a cheery tone with a few sentimental touches—specifically, small packs of tissues, which are commonly handed out as favors at boohoo/yahoo events. Tie a narrow ribbon around multicolored packs and attach an inspirational verse; then place the packs at tables for attendees. (If you’re so inclined, you can find creative presentations on Pinterest. Search on “boohoo breakfast” to get ideas.)

To spread the word, send email reminders before the event or targeted invitations to a select group. For example, attach flyers to paperwork packets when new parents come in to register kindergartners if they’re your focus. Hang posters by entranceways to kindergarten or primary grade classrooms because parents often accompany children that age on the first day. Make sure teachers know to direct parents to your event, as well.

Remember, the point is to have fun with the event. New beginnings signal new opportunities to foster goodwill among incoming parents—the same ones you’ll count on come fundraising time and as volunteer. Mix, mingle, and talk up your group—and if you can, have some volunteer sign-up sheets set out on a table. Wipe those tears, and let out a few cheers—it’s a great way to welcome the new school year!